This time of year, everybody seems to be writing mock NBA drafts. It’s the thing to do, and why not? Who can avoid being sucked into the excitement caused by all the rumors and trades and draft debates?
I have decided to take a different look at the mock draft, though. In contrast to predicting picks, I thought I'd write about who I would pick and why I would pick that player. I mean we all know most of us would be much better GMs than the real ones...right?
1. L.A. Clippers—No. 1 PF-Blake Griffin
Griffin is the only obvious pick in this draft. As we all know, Griffin dominated the post in college basketball last year. He's explosive, athletic, and strong. There is nothing not to love about Griffin as he is also a hard worker.
Plus, he has a developing outside game and jump shot. Griffin easily has the potential to be a game-changing power forward.
By making this pick, though, the Clippers will probably need to make some deals either on draft night or during the offseason in order to create roster spots in a frontcourt that already includes Zach Randolph, Chris Kamen, and Marcus Camby.
If I were the GM of the Clippers, I would definitely look to move one of my other forwards, probably for a guard in order to make room for Griffin.
2. Memphis Grizzlies—No. 1 trade the pick, No. 2 C-Hasheem Thabeet
If I were the Grizzlies GM, which I'm glad I'm not, this pick would be a little tricky. Rubio is definitely No. 2 on my draft board; he has some flaws, but his upside is tremendous.
The problem is that the Grizzlies have already invested in its point guard of the future, Mike Conley, and I still see good things coming for him. With this in mind, my first move would be to try to deal the pick, most likely for a solid big man such as Tyson Chandler or Chris Kamen.
If I was unable to move the pick, my distant second option would be to reach and take the raw 7'3" center Hasheem Thabeet. I could settle for his defense because, looking at the roster, I would expect O. J. Mayo and Rudy Gay to carry most of the scoring.
Moreover, a shot-blocking monster like Thabeet would allow us to step up our outside defense and pressure the ball better.
While I would definitely like to move the pick, if I was forced to use it, I would go with Thabeet.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder—No. 1 trade the pick, No. 3 PG-Ricky Rubio, No. 3 PG/SG-Stephen Curry
The Thunder have one of the best young cores in the game with Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Jeff Green.
Their biggest need is a big presence on the interior. I would first look to move this pick for either Tyson Chandler, Chris Kamen, or another available big man. This would allow the Thunder fill their biggest need.
If I was unable to get a deal done, I would not hesitate to use the pick to fill the teams second-biggest need, a backcourt partner for Westbrook.
The first choice would have to be Ricky Rubio. I consider him the second-best player in the draft, and he is still available. He has great play-making ability and a very high ceiling.
While he still needs to develop a jumper and an NBA body, there’s no rush as he can develop right along with the rest of the young core. The only problem with drafting Rubio is that it means a position change for Westbrook, and while Westbrook would not perform poorly at the two-guard position, he is much more suited to play the point, and as a two-guard, he would complement Rubio.
Another option after drafting Rubio would be to take him and use him later in a sign-and-trade deal with the Knicks for David Lee.
If I decided against taking Rubio, my other option is Stephen Curry. Curry is one of the best shooters, period, and he can score at will from anywhere. He also has many of the skills needed to play the point and could probably do a nice job of relieving Westbrook from his point guard duties periodically.
Curry is not quite as strong as scouts would like him to be, but if a team tried to put a bigger guard on him, the Thunder could move Westbrook on to the bigger guard defensively.
For this mock draft, I think I’ll go with the more upside and take Ricky Rubio.
4. Sacramento Kings—No. 1 PG-Jonny Flynn
The Kings have a very good shooter and two-guard in Kevin Martin and a potential steal in Jason Thompson at power forward. The rest of the team is not solid, though.
The biggest need for this team is at the point. They need someone to handle the ball and create more opportunities for Martin and Thompson. The best point guard left on the board is Flynn. Flynn is not the best scorer, but he is great slash-and-kick player.
Another advantage to drafting Flynn is his leadership. Flynn is by far one of the best leaders available in this draft, and the Kings need leadership.
5. Minnesota Timberwolves—No. 1 PG/SG-Stephen Curry
After the deal with the Wizards, the T-Wolves need help at both guard spots. With a group of young quickly-improving big men and a group of young small forwards that are good role players, the T-Wolves easily know where to use these two draft picks.
At the point guard spot, they can draft Curry, who is quickly improving his ability to run the point and has impressed scouts all offseason with his new skills. I haven’t even mentioned his great shooting and scoring ability. Having a point guard who can both distribute and score is very deadly and crucial to rebuilding T-Wolves' backcourt.
6. Minnesota Timberwolves— No. 2 SG-Tyreke Evans
Picking right up where they left off, the T-Wolves continue to rebuild their backcourt; this time they go with a big, NBA-ready two-guard. Tyreke Evans has great size and can get to the rim at will. He will be the perfect complement to Stephen Curry.
Evans doesn’t have the best long-range jump shot, but Curry makes up for that. Evans was also criticized for his over-dribbling and poor decision-making at Memphis, but that won’t be a problem with Curry doing most of the ball handling.
With this pick, the T-Wolves can set themselves up to have a nice young core that, in a few years, could contend for a title.
7. Golden States Warriors—No. 1 SG-James Harden
With Jamal Crawford likely shipped off to the Hawks and Monta Ellis playing the point, the Warriors could really use a solid two-guard. Luckily for them, in this mock draft, James Harden has fallen all the way to No. 7.
He would be a great fit to play alongside Monta Ellis and would give the Warriors a very good backcourt duo. While the Warriors could use a player like Jordan Hill to help their frontcourt, they also have a need a shooting guard, and James Harden is too valuable to pass up at this point.
8. New York Knicks—No. 1 PG/SG-Jrue Holiday
The Knicks highly covet both Ricky Rubio and Stephen Curry, but with both of those players off the board at this point, the Knicks will have to look somewhere else. While the media is reporting that the Knicks are very high on Jordan Hill, that’s not who I would choose to go with here because he reminds me too much of a player that I already have on my team, David Lee.
Instead, I would look to add a guard, preferably one that has a strong offensive game, especially from the outside. The best guard prospect left for D’Antoni’s offense is Holiday.
Jennings might fit as well, but he’s too big a risk for me to take looking ahead to next year’s free agency.
Holiday may not have a great outside game, but, at this point in the draft, he problem has the best perimeter game. Holiday also gives the Knicks versatility as he can play the point or the two-spot. He is a great defender and has very good size, especially as a point guard.
This is the safest pick the Knicks can make at this point to help themselves for the 2010 free agent market.
9. Toronto Raptors—No. 1 PF-Jordan Hill, No. 2 SG-DeMar DeRozen
The Raptors need to address their areas of concern, a post player to go alongside Chris Bosh and an upgrade at the shooting guard spot.
The Raptors could use a great athlete like DeMar DeRozen, and his ceiling is off the charts, meaning the Raptors could get a nice steal with this pick. The thing is they already have a top-level athlete with Shawn Marion and at this point in the draft, getting a solid rebounding big like Jordan Hill would be great.
There’s no way that I could pass up Hill at this point if I were the Raptors.
10. Milwaukee Bucks—No.1 DeMar DeRozen, No. 2 trade down for PG-Eric Maynor or PG-Ty Lawson, No. 3 DeJuan Blair
The Bucks are going to need help at either the point or forward depending on whether they let Ramon Sessions or Charlie Villanueva walk in free agency, but they also just left a very good small forward go in Richard Jefferson.
The Bucks can look at one of the remaining point guards like Lawson or Maynor, maybe even Jennings, but he’s too big of a risk to me. The problem with taking Maynor or Lawson is that they aren’t worth the 10th pick, so the Bucks could probably trade down to get them.
Big man DeJuan Blair could also be in the running, but the Bucks might be scared off by his knees, and DeRozen is a better fit for the Bucks.
If the Bucks were to use this pick, I would go with DeRozen. He has very high potential and would be the perfect replacement for the recently-traded Jefferson. DeRozen is explosive and can get to the rim; he also has great size for a guard, which may allow him to play some small forward. DeRozen is the perfect match here.